I’m on the train down to the quaint English seaside town where I grew up, watching the countryside flash by. Neatly hedged fields, thick-walled farmhouses, and glimpses of bigger human settlements marked by the identical carparks and superstores.
I’m trying to work out how I feel. It’s a mixture of jetlagged tiredness, slight anxiety, a little excitement, and my hopeful practice of being an open, blank slate.
It suddenly occurred to me that Mum hasn’t seen me with blonde hair. Well, not since the ill-fated ‘Highlights Experiment of 1985’ anyway; maybe I should pop my blue cap on? This is a new experience: wondering how Mum is going to greet me. For as long as I can remember of course, she has hugged me hello with a squeal of excitement, and teary eyes, especially once I moved to Australia in 1987, and there were long gaps between my flights home.
At my financially poorest, and most rebellious, I admit I didn’t see her for 8 years; I would HATE it if ‘18’ did that to me! It’s all different now though, with Skype and FaceTime etc, so global connections are much easier to maintain…
But will she recognize me in person?
Without question, this is the most dreaded experience of anyone connected to a Dementia sufferer, and I am no exception. I don’t think it’s going to happen quite yet- not this trip anyway- but the newly-blonde hair may throw her a bit.
So I’m gazing at my trepidatious reflection in the train window, wondering what awaits me for the next 3 weeks, and trying to settle all the conflicting emotions in somewhere other than the pit of my belly.
Breathe in, breathe out. Ribcage expands, ribcage softens. The train rattles down the tracks, as I get closer to Mum; locking my front door in Australia on Monday seems like a long time ago, and I seek a soft, familiar, welcoming landing.
But I’m not sure I’m going to get it.
In gratitude for the hard-learned gift of patience, and deep belly breathing, G xO